International

Pope Francis calls for action to safeguard women, children

Pope Francis takes off his shoes as he visits the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch at Was Ratchabophit Sathit Maha Simaram Temple, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand.

Pope Francis takes off his shoes as he visits the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch at Was Ratchabophit Sathit Maha Simaram Temple, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand.   | Photo Credit: AP

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Mr. Francis pleaded for action against one of the region’s greatest scourges, human trafficking to fuel the forced labor and sex trade industries, as he began a week-long visit to Asia

Pope Francis called for migrants to be welcomed and for women and children to be protected from exploitation, abuse and enslavement as he began a busy two days of activities in Thailand on Thursday.

Mr. Francis pleaded for action against one of the region’s greatest scourges, human trafficking to fuel the forced labor and sex trade industries, as he began a week-long visit to Asia.

The future of our peoples is linked in large measure to the way we will ensure a dignified future to our children, he said.

The United Nations considers Thailand a key trafficking destination as well as a source of forced labor and sex slaves, who are trafficked at home or abroad. The U.N. anti-trafficking agency says migrants come from Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia or Vietnam, with Cambodian women and children in particular trafficked to beg in Thai cities.

The U.S. State Department has faulted Thailand for failing to fully crack down on traffickers who induce young Thai girls into pornography, as well as exploitation, including via debt bondage, of migrant workers in commercial fishing enterprises.

The Thai government has insisted it has made significant progress in cracking down on human trafficking and has vowed continued cooperation with international bodies to improve.

Mr. Francis has made the fight against human trafficking one of the cornerstones of his papacy, calling it a crime against humanity. Under his express wishes, the Vatican has hosted several conferences on eradicating trafficking, featuring women freed from forced prostitution.

In his comments made alongside Thai authorities, Mr. Francis thanked the country for its historical role welcoming migrants from across the region, who are drawn to Thailand for economic opportunities. But he said all countries must do more to resolve the conflicts that fuel the ragic exodusof forced migration.

May every nation devise effective means for protecting the dignity and rights of migrants and refugees, who face dangers, uncertainties and exploitation in their quest for freedom and a decent life for their families,he said.

Mr. Francis had a busy schedule on his first full day of activities of his weeklong tour, which will also take him to Japan.

During a meeting with Thailand Supreme Patriarch of Buddhism, Mr. Francis committed the Catholic Church to working more with Thailand majority Buddhists to launch projects to care for the poor and the environment.

Mr. Francis’ visit was the second time a pope has called on the spiritual leader of Thailand Buddhists, after St. John Paul II in 1984.

There are fewer than 400,000 Catholics among Thailand’s 65 million people, yet, Mr. Francis said, they have enjoyed freedom in their religious practice. He called for increasing charitable initiatives to improve fraternity and to help the poor nd our much-abused common home.

Friday’s agenda includes meetings with local Thai clergy, Asian bishops and separately a meeting with leaders of different Christian denominations and other faiths.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 2:17:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/pope-francis-calls-for-action-to-safeguard-women-children/article30034485.ece

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